Rustic Zucchini and Ricotta Galette and Tales From Kenya

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette Recipe

This past weekend, the Mr. and I were discussing how we frequently see the Boston police performing activities we normally wouldn’t expect.  For example, there often is a police presence around the crews working on the utilities.  I’m sure it is for the safety of the crew (Boston is notorious for bad drivers)  but it seems odd to me as I have never seen this in any other city I have lived in.

Anyhow,  this conversation about the police prompted memories about a certain security-related incident that happened in Kenya.  More specifically a security “oopsy” where ZaZu, the mischievous Bengal cat that you hear about in many of my posts, took center stage.

Giraffe in Nairobi National Park with City in Background
Giraffe with Nairobi in the background.

But before I get into another one of  ZaZu’s escapades, I first want to give you a little background on my housing situation in Kenya as it will help frame said security incident.  It will also help satisfy your curiosity as I find one of the first questions people often ask me about living in Kenya is:

“What was your house like?”

Zebra in Nairobi National Park

Seriously?  I lived in this exotic far off land, and this is what you are most curious about?

I think most people who ask this question have visions of the Mr and I living in a hut constructed of sunbaked dung with goats, chickens and donkeys grazing in the surrounding bush and our loin clothes strewn across red hued rocks as they dry in the hot, African sun (see the caricature that our co-workers in Ohio wished us bon voyage with as evidence of this).  Of course the rhino we ride to work everyday is parked out front.

Nairobi Caricature
Yep, we rode our rhino to work every day.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with living in a good, solid hut.  I certainly stayed in my fair share of huts in Africa during volunteer excursions and they were quite comfortable;  however, during my three year assignment in Nairobi, I lived in what would be deemed a “normal” house by Western standards.  Did you see the quotes around normal?  That’s because the house had modern, developed world comforts but with Alcatraz sensibilities.

The house was built into a hill with sweeping views of the Karura forest.  It had floor to ceiling glass walls that capitalized on these views.  The kitchen was modern with European appliances and the floors were cloaked with marble or dark rich hardwood.  Sounds normal, right?  Here’s where it becomes a little more exotic, so to speak.

Backside of baby zebra in Nairobi National Park

The house was in a gated compound which meant it was surrounded by a tall stone wall topped with electric and barbed wire fencing.  The compound was manned by security guards 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  In our particular compound, we had 4 security guards available at all times plus a highly trained, vicious security dog that “tolerated” it’s handler.  To get into the compound, you had to pass through this security.   Sound safe?  Entry into your compound was the moment when you were the most vulnerable to carjackings.  Car jackings are a frequent occurrence in Nairobi, so frequent that many people stow a carjacking envelope filled with shillings in their car as a precautionary measure.  After all, it’s better to hand over an envelope full of money versus getting robbed and stuffed into the boot for an unforeseen number of hours.

Cape Buffalo at Nairobi National Park

The inside of the house had loads of security features.  Just like many of the homes in the U.S., it was equipped with a home alarm.  But it didn’t stop there.  It also had metal bars on the windows (another Alcatraz feature).   Fortunately, the bars in our house were designed to look like plantation shutters so they had more of an upscale prison cell feel.  There was also a panic button in each and every room.  If trouble ever arose,  simply push the button and the security team stationed at the end of your street would quickly rush to your house.  It’s sort of like hitting a button that magically cues Clark Kent to bolt into a phone booth and emerge as a crimefighting superhero.

And last, but certainly not least, we had a panic room on our lower level.  Yes, you read that right.  We had a panic room specially designed so that you could lock yourself up like a caged animal and isolate yourself from the rest of the house if the need or desire struck.  Fortunately I never had a need for the panic room but I am aware of others who made good use of theirs.

Giraffe at Nairobi National Park

 

Baby Zebra in Nairobi National Park

Young Baboon in Amboseli

One morning the Mr and I were in the kitchen enjoying our cup of tea and coffee before heading off to work.  Our kitties, being social butterflies, were in the kitchen with us.  Unfortunately, ZaZu had an incurable habit of jumping up on top of the countertops.  I guess it was his way of being closer to the family.  You should also know that when ZaZu was on the countertop it put him at the same level as one of the panic buttons in the kitchen.  You see where this is going?

So, I was enjoying my last sip of tea when I heard a VERY aggressive pounding on the door.

“That’s strange.  We aren’t expecting any guests.  How would they have gotten past security?”, I thought to myself.

Folding the Zucchini and Ricotta Galette Recipe

Folding the Zucchini and Ricotta Galette Recipe

Folding the Zucchini and Ricotta Galette Recipe

Folding the Zucchini and Ricotta Galette Recipe

Puzzled, the Mr. went and opened the door.  Do you know what he saw?  Ten security guards dressed to the nines in full riot gear.

“Is there a problem?” the head of security asked as the Mr. stood there with his mouth open and a cup of coffee in hand.

“No, no problems” replied the Mr.

Apparently the panic button had been pressed.  I’ll give you one guess as to who pressed it. . .not intentionally, of course.  You know how cats like to rub their cheeks up against things?  Yeeeaaaah. . .It turns out ZaZu had rubbed his cheek up against the panic button which in turn had caused the silent alarm and a big red flashing light outside our house to go off.  Good to know the button actually works.

Let’s just say that from that point forward it was normal for us to surround the panic button above the kitchen counter with a caseload of wine bottles.

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette Recipe

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette Recipe

In honor of all those fond, and sometimes interesting memories made in Nairobi, I am bringing you this Zucchini and Ricotta Galette.  I think it is pretty obvious that this is not a Kenyan dish but it does remind me of the Spring-like weather that Nairobi enjoys year round.

I don’t know about you but I feel that galettes always add an air of rustic elegance to any meal and would be perfect for your Mother’s Day brunch.  If you have never made a galette, I can assure you it is very easy.  To prove this, Food52 just featured a how to video.  You can find this video HERE.

Rustic Zucchini and Ricotta Galette

FOR THE CRUST:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water + 3-6 extra tablespoons
  • 1 egg yolk

Directions:

  • Place both flour and salt into a food processor and pulse to combine.
  • Cut butter up into small cubes and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse until the mixture looks like a coarse meal (about 1 minute).  You shouldn’t have cubes of butter remaining.  If you do, keep pulsing.
  • Place the mixture into a big bowl and sprinkle the vinegar and 1/4 cup of water onto it.
  • Mix thoroughly with a fork.  You will continue to add water (1 tablespoon at a time) until the dough starts to come together.  Be careful not to add too much water.  The dough should look pretty shaggy.
  • Push the dough together and form it into a flattened disc.
  • Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.  I chilled my dough overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Get a sheet of parchment paper and toss a hand full of flour on it.
  • Roll the dough out into a round.  The final product should be 1/8 inch thick (a 14 inch round).  It’s okay if it isn’t perfectly round.  Galette’s are meant to look imperfectly rustic.
  • Transfer the galette and parchment paper to a baking sheet.
  • Spread the ricotta cheese mixture over the top of the dough (recipe follows).  Be sure to leave a 1 1/2 inch border.  You want to be able to easily fold the dough over, don’t you?
  • Place the zucchini slices on top of the ricotta cheese.
  • Fold the edges over the top of the filling, overlapping wherever necessary.
  • Whisk together egg yolk and 1 teaspoon water.  Brush on top of the dough.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  • Let it cook slightly on the baking sheet before slicing.
  • Blot any excess liquid off the exposed filling with a paper towel.
  • Enjoy the flakey goodness.

FOR THE FILLING:

Ingredients:

  • 3 small zucchini
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic glove minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

  • Slice the zucchinis into thin rounds and place them on a paper towel.  Sprinkle with salt and let the slices rest for 1 hour.  You want those zucchini slices to sweat.
  • Blot zucchini slices with a paper towel.  Flip and place on a dry paper towel.  Sprinkle with salt and let rest for 1 hour.
  • Blot zucchini slices off with a paper towel .
  • In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic and red pepper flakes.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese & parmesan.  Mix in the oil and garlic mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Use as instructed above.

Galette crust recipe from Bon Appetít magazine.

I hope you enjoyed some of the photos I took in Nairobi.  I will be sharing more photos from Africa in future posts.  Stay tuned.

XOXO –

Lynn

33 thoughts on “Rustic Zucchini and Ricotta Galette and Tales From Kenya

  • April 19, 2015 at 11:46 am
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    What a great post! Loved learning about life in Kenya! And this galette looks awesome! Need to definitely try it!

    Reply
    • April 20, 2015 at 7:33 am
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      Thanks Mira. Glad you enjoyed. Look for more posts on my life and Kenya and travels around Africa and other destinations in future posts. As for the galette, it is pretty spectacular. I’ve made it several times and it is always a big hit.

      Reply
  • April 19, 2015 at 5:56 pm
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    You live such an interesting life! I enjoy living vicariously through your stories as I don’t have that sense of adventure. The galette looks wonderful and with such nice, light flavors!

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    • April 20, 2015 at 7:34 am
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      Thanks Thao. I constantly crave a sense of adventure and am always on the look out for what the next one will entail. Glad I could provide some enjoyment to you.. .even if adventurous travel is not your cup of tea. 🙂

      Reply
    • April 20, 2015 at 7:35 am
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      Nairobi is truly an amazing place Rebecca and I miss it to pieces. Sigh!. . .one day I will set up my own safari camp in this magical land.

      Reply
  • April 20, 2015 at 10:19 am
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    Lynn, what an experience to have lived in Africa for three years. Did you bring ZaZu back home with you? I have to read previous posts to find out. So much fun to read your blog. The galette is gorgeous, the images as well. I haven’t made a galette in a long time, I think it’s time now…

    Reply
    • April 20, 2015 at 2:56 pm
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      I know Dina. It was an amazing experience and I was sad to leave. As for ZaZu…of course he (as well as his 3 siblings) returned to the states with us. He is a very well traveled cat, having stayed in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Nairobi, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Chicago. I hope you find time to read previous posts (and future posts).

      Reply
  • April 20, 2015 at 11:42 am
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    Nice post! Really enjoyed reading it! The galette looks great! The filling sounds delicious:)

    Reply
  • April 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm
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    Oh wow, this post is magic… I enjoyed so much reading it, I wish it had been me the lucky writer! 🙂

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    • April 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm
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      Awe asante sana Lily. Perhaps you will find yourself living in Kenya in the future and I will be the one reading about this experience.

      Reply
  • April 20, 2015 at 11:02 pm
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    I love your posts and photos of your time in Kenya! I’m a history/geography teacher so I love anything about different cultures and ways of life. Keep’em coming!! And those great recipes too 🙂

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    • April 21, 2015 at 8:51 am
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      Glad you enjoyed the post and photos Veronica. I have loads of photos to share (it’s always difficult to decide on which ones to start with) and will continue to include them in future posts. I have been fortunate to travel quite a bit and realize not all have that opportunity.

      Reply
  • April 21, 2015 at 8:00 am
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    Love all the photos in this post, though I can imagine the security guards were not super happy. Maybe you should have offered them a slice of this gorgeous galette!

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    • April 21, 2015 at 8:48 am
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      Asante sana Joanne. Fortunately Kenyans tend to be very laid back so I don’t think they were bothered by this at all and I am certain they are used to false alarms. Unfortunately, the alarms are silent so you have no idea they have even been triggered. Regardless I learned my lesson and took precautionary measures so it would not happen again. That said, you are probably right. . .they would have most likely enjoyed this galette.

      Reply
  • April 21, 2015 at 9:17 pm
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    I love this story Lynn! I can’t believe your cats are such good travelers, I’m very impressed! Love the look of this galette, yum!

    Reply
    • April 22, 2015 at 8:43 am
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      Thanks Maya! They are very good travelers. Funny thing is when they arrive in a new location they always act like they lived there their entire lives. I guess they have gotten used to it. The galette is quite tasty. . .the perfect dish for spring.

      Reply
  • April 21, 2015 at 9:23 pm
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    Living in Nairobi seems so much fun 🙂 I am not adventurous enough to even think of living there, but reading about it from your post, I am happy to do. Love the thought of riding the rhino though. hahaha

    Well, your writing takes center stage on this post; nevertheless, I like that galette you made 🙂

    Reply
    • April 22, 2015 at 8:47 am
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      Thanks Pang. It was loads of fun and I especially loved the frequent trips to the bush. As for the rhino. . .I am not sure that the rhino would appreciate being used as a taxi. So instead of the rhino, let’s say we ride a camel to work as it was fairly typical to see people riding their camels in the city. As a matter of fact, I saw some guy riding his camel backwards on the highway (I know. . .strange sights are the norm in Africa).

      Reply
  • April 22, 2015 at 10:46 am
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    I love reading about your experience in Africa, and the photos are stunning as always. Now, if we talk food this galette is a must try, love the ricotta and zucchini combo!

    Reply
    • April 22, 2015 at 1:13 pm
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      Awe thanks Katalina. Glad you enjoyed the post and I will have many more where I share my travel experiences as travel is such an important part of my life. You can’t go wrong with this galette. It’s the perfect warm weather meal.

      Reply
  • April 22, 2015 at 3:08 pm
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    Such a wonderful post. Thanks for taking us to Nairobi! Love the photos, love the story, love the galette! It must be that kind of week – I’ve got a sweet one brewing for Friday’s post! Minus the giraffe…

    Reply
  • April 22, 2015 at 4:27 pm
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    Loved reading this story and hope to hear and see more about your life in Kenya! Thanks for sharing.

    Your rustic galette’s zucchini slices are reminiscent of animal stripes or the leaves of a beautiful plant and totally fit the vibe of this post! Gorgeous galette!

    Reply
  • April 23, 2015 at 8:19 am
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    Lovely, just lovely pictures, both the galette and the animals, not to mention the story. This entire post is a must-read, well done!

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    • April 23, 2015 at 8:30 am
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      Awe thanks Oana! I’m glad you enjoyed it. More of these types of posts in the future so please stop back.

      Reply
  • April 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm
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    Great post! Love the stories and the photographs are just stunning! Fabulous dish too – I always think of galettes as being sweet, but I much prefer savory items. A perfect dish!

    Reply
  • April 24, 2015 at 2:49 am
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    What a great story! Oh Zazu 🙂 Thanks for sharing the gorgeous pics too! This savory galette is stunning! Love the zucchini and ricotta combo!

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    • April 24, 2015 at 4:39 pm
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      He’s such a little troublemaker, isn’t he Kelly? Glad you enjoyed the story. . more to come so stay tuned.

      Reply
  • April 24, 2015 at 8:08 am
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    Love this recipe! also i spent some time in Uganda and it is very funny to hear people’s perceptions!

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    • April 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm
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      Thanks Carrie. Agreed that people’s perceptions can be extremely humorous and often incorrect. While my hubby traveled throughout Uganda, it was one country that I unfortunately didn’t get to. All the more reason to return to Africa.

      Reply
  • April 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm
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    lovely gallette! and amazing story

    Reply

Grab a slice of cake & let's chat. . .